January 11

Power and Influence

Friday’s Big Idea

Truth to Power

We live in a historical moment when the instruments of political and corporate power have become so opaque that it's difficult even to discuss injustice directly, let alone redress it. This is the case even in the West, where democracy offers the people freedom of speech and some semblance of political control, while the divided loyalties of elected officials serve private interests while the press marginalizes, even ridicules, overt dissent. Of course, it could be worse...

In China, justice is still harder to come by. While the county's "managed capitalism" has required some loosening of cultural restrictions, Beijing's control of the press remains tight, and those who dissent against human rights abuses are often swiftly silenced. 

What does courage look like under these circumstances, when wisdom counsels keeping your mouth shut, or working within the system to change it? Artist Ai Weiwei, who lives in Beijing and continues to protest official Chinese injustice through art, open dissent and ongoing legal battles in the Chinese courts, in spite of having been beaten, harassed, and detained for months by Chinese police, is perhaps as powerful an exemplar as any. 

  1. 1 Ai Weiwei: I'm Not an Activist
  2. 2 Gerrymandering and the Politics o...
  3. 3 F*** You, Motherland – Ai Weiwei'...
  4. 4 Five Simple Rules for Staying in ...
   
  1. Ai Weiwei: I'm Not an Activist

    Ai Weiwei: I'm Not an Activist

    Artist Ai Weiwei sees his ongoing battles with the Chinese government as a matter of personal responsibility to "look your enemy in the face and tell them what you're fighting for." 

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  2. Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge

    Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge

    Congress gets to pick its own voters, and not the other way around. But what if we got rid of gerrymandering and made 200 races in the House competitive every two years instead of just 30 or 40?

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  3. F*** You, Motherland – Ai Weiwei's Mission to Save China From Herself

    F*** You, Motherland – Ai Weiwei's Mission to Save China From Herself

    The documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the portrait of a man fighting a one-man war of ideas with the Chinese government, daily putting his own life at risk for the sake of the country he loves.

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  4. Five Simple Rules for Staying in Power

    Five Simple Rules for Staying in Power

    From the ruler's perspective, says Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a democracy is the worst form of government possible, because it greatly increases the ruler's risk of losing power.

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